This January I visited NYC for the 2015 National Retail Federation Big Show. 33,000 people attended. Along with very interesting speakers, we got to see some of the bells and whistles of 21st century retail. Lots of this revolves around ever increasing sophistication of mobile technology: How we are identified as consumers and sold to! There is seemingly no privacy!
I am most proud that our industry has started to address ways it can be a force for helping our men and women in the military find wonderful second careers in retail after their service. I was able to connect the NRF to General Dempsey’s office and facilitate Lt Col Brian Gilman speaking at the show. For those interested his presentation is linked here.
Our NRF Foundation recognized the great work US Army Brigadier General Gary Profit is doing at Walmart to increase veteran employment. To date Walmart has hired over 70,000 veterans and has committed over $20 million for further outreach and support. This is hugely important as the military represents a wonderful talent pool for retail and in doing so we make our Country stronger.
There is no doubt that retail is being challenged on so many fronts, the internet and mobile have changed retail for ever. Without question consumers have more choices, almost instant satisfaction with home delivery, and never need to leave their home! What is less clear is how independent retail finds its place and how communities will retain local flavor when big retail has such advantages.
Also I saw a 3D printer at work for the first time, very interesting. The question is how will this technology begin to impact retail. From what I saw we are a long way from consumers making their own jewelry!
Mika and Joe from “ Early Morning Joe” came to speak to us about their sense of the Presidential Election. It turns out that Mika is from the neighborhood! Also met Ben Bernanke who was quite optimistic about the economy for 2015.
All in all a very exciting and thought provoking 3 days!